Birth defects contribute substantially to the burden of morbidity and mortality in the Region of the Americas. Numerous efforts exist to raise awareness of this problem and to implement surveillance in health and government sectors. However, there is still a long way to go. In this regard, for several years, countries have been taking actions to coordinate efforts, while strengthening and establishing strategic alliances to achieve significant results.
The extensive history of efforts aimed at responding to the situation of birth defects in the Region includes actions in health care, epidemiology, legislation, and investigation, with participation from the scientific and technical community, government, and civil society. After taking into account all these aspects, the Pan American Health Organization/Latin American Center for Perinatology, Women, and Reproductive Health (PAHO/CLAP/WR), together with the World Bank, decided to create a document summarizing the regional situation of birth defects from an epidemiological and programmatic perspective, to analyze the challenges and offer countries guidance to address birth defects, their determinants, and consequences, with the ultimate goal of helping to “leave no one behind.”